Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

DOES NORTH KOREA HAVE NUKES?....Jeebus, not again:

The Bush administration has asserted in recent months that North Korea possesses one or two nuclear bombs and is rapidly developing the means to make more....But the administration's assessment rests on meager fresh evidence and limited, sometimes dated, intelligence, according to current and former U.S. and foreign officials.

....Independent experts and some U.S. officials also are skeptical of administration claims that North Korea is within months of manufacturing material for more weapons at a secret uranium-enrichment plant

...."We assess that North Korea has produced one or two simple fission-type nuclear weapons and has validated the designs without conducting yield-producing nuclear tests," the CIA said.

....To some, the wording of the CIA report shouted political considerations, not proof.

" 'We assess' means they concluded based upon a judgment of North Korean intent and capabilities," said Robert Gallucci, the Clinton administration's top negotiator with the North. "Those are political judgments."

The story goes on to says that our intelligence on North Korea is so poor that we literally don't know anything about them. They're certainly trying to build a nuclear capability, but we really don't know if they have one.

I'm well aware of the claim that we simply can't afford to take chances on this stuff anymore. But that's beside the point: if we don't know for sure what their capabilities are, but believe that we need to take action anyway, that's what we ought to say. If we're proven wrong again on a firm claim that a foreign country has WMD capability, we're screwed. No one will ever believe us again.

Kevin Drum 8:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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